Tag Archives: Vassvik

“Magnetic North” from the British Museum

Presented by the multi-disciplinary arts company Border Crossings as part of its Origins Festival, this online event accompanies the British Museum exhibition Arctic: culture and climate.

Dance, poetry and discussions are interspersed with fantastic footage of scenery and wildlife. And there should be plenty of thought provoked by cultures so different from our own.

With music and a soundscape from indigenous Sami band Vassvik running throughout, the storytelling from Ishmael Angaluuk Hope is fascinating and the poetry of Taqralik Partridge poses important challenges.

While it is true you have to sign up for the event, I wonder if more of an introduction might be a good idea? Ignorance is no defence, but this is the first exhibition of its kind in the UK and more context would have been welcome. Even after visiting the museum on the same day, I can’t be alone in being a little puzzled by the Greenlandic mask dancing.

So, attendance of the exhibition is strongly recommended. It’s interesting to see themes the curators have picked out elaborated by the performers, with links between a story told and an artwork seen. There are challenges to colonial assumptions and, of course, an emphasis on the threats posed to these cultures by climate change. This latter concern is especially well handled in a discussion between two young women – Caitlyn Baikie and Mya Rose-Craig – that is inspiring. Linked to the show, the event is excellent. Organisers should be thrilled with the collaboration.

The exhibition runs until 21 February 2021